Teens ride free on buses in Wake, Durham and Orange

Teens will be able to ride public buses in Wake and Durham counties for free starting Aug. 6 with a special pass card.

GoTriangle, GoRaleigh, GoCary and GoDurham have begun issuing the Youth GoPass to teens age 13 to 18 that will allow them to ride anywhere those bus systems go. The transit agencies hope that making it easier for teens to get on a bus will encourage more to ride them now and in the future as adults.

“By making transit more accessible to our younger residents all over the Triangle, we open up so many more opportunities for them to get to schools, jobs and places to meet friends,” Jennifer Robinson, a Cary Town Council member and chair of GoTriangle’s board of trustees, said in a statement. “Over the long term, we also cultivate a generation of life-long transit users who are comfortable riding transit and who understand how a strong network improves the entire community.”

The Youth GoPass website, YouthGoPass.com, includes instructions and a video designed to help first-time bus riders. It also has links to a page that helps people plan their trips and an app that lets them track their bus in real time.

“Don’t be nervous if you’ve never ridden the bus,” the website says under the heading Bus Riding 101. “After one trip, you’ll be a pro.”

GoRaleigh quietly made the Youth GoPass available at the beginning of the month, according to Matthew McCall, assistant general manager of operations. McCall said GoRaleigh has issued nearly 200 passes that have been used for more than 1,700 trips throughout the city.

Raleigh City Council member Kay Crowder pressed GoRaleigh to consider free bus passes for teens and said in a statement that she was excited to see them come about.

“With this type of initiative, we grow our next user base for public transit, providing opportunities to become familiar with an alternative to the car-centric, default means of getting around,” Crowder said.

To get a pass, teens or their guardians must fill out a registration form and provide proof of age, such as a birth certificate, driver’s license, school ID with school year or other government-issued ID that has the date of birth. The passes are available at transit agency offices, Raleigh community centers and libraries in Wake and Durham counties (a full list, along with the application, can be found at gotriangle.org/locations).

Children 12 and under already ride the bus for free when accompanied by an adult.

Free fares for teens is one of several initiatives to improve bus service made possible by half-cent sales taxes that voters in Wake and Durham counties have approved to expand transit. In Wake County, the transit agencies expect the program will save teens about $200,000 in fares in the coming year.

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